Lung Ultrasound Offers Benefits with Assessing Children with COVID-19

April 23, 2020

Reduced radiation exposure and virus transmission is possible for both patients and providers.

When imaging children, radiation exposure is always a paramount concern. That worry remains real even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, new research pointing to the potential of using point-of-care lung ultrasound could be good news.

According to an article published on April 23 in Pediatrics, investigators from the Regina Margherita Children’s Hospital in Turin, Italy, determined lung ultrasound is an acceptable strategy for finding lung abnormalities in children with both mild and severe COVID-19 infections. 

To date, only chest CT and chest X-ray have been examined in children, the team said, but lung ultrasound is a promising option.

“While the number of patients analyzed is small, the high concordance between radiologic and lung ultrasound findings suggests that ultrasound may be a reasonable method to detect lung abnormalities in children with COVID-19,” the authors wrote.

Based on World Health Organization statistics, children account for only 5 percent of infected patients. Consequently, the number of children available for assessment and analysis is low. The in the study, the team evaluated eight children ages 0 to 17 who were admitted to the hospital. Two had severe disease, two had moderate disease, and four were classified with mild disease.

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Within the lung ultrasound images, the team looked for signs of viral pneumonia as small subpleural consolidations and individual B-lines or confluent B-lines. The images found subpleural consolidations in two children and confluent B-lines in five. In seven cases, they found a concordance with radiologic findings, and an interstitial B-lines pattern was seen in one patient despite a normal chest X-ray.

Given these findings, the team pointed to several benefits of using lung ultrasound in children with COVID-19:

  • Reduced exposure to radiation if the number of imaging scans is reduced.

  • Reduced exposure to COVID-19 for providers and medical devices because the child doesn’t need to be moved around the hospital..

  • Less risk of contamination and easier sterilization procedures when using wireless ultrasound devices that can be wrapped in disposable plastic covers.

These results point to a need for more studies analyzing the use and efficacy of lung ultrasound in children with COVID-19 infection, the researchers said.